Team preview: Stanford

The Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook previews the 2008 Stanford Cardinal, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: July 19, 2008, 12:28 PM ET
Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook
Editor's Note: ESPN Insider has teamed with Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook to provide a comprehensive look at all Division I-A teams. To order the complete 2008 edition of Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook,visit www.blueribbonyearbook.com or call 1-866-805-BALL (2255).

(All information as of June 20, 2008)

COACH AND PROGRAM

When Stanford hired Jim Harbaugh after the program's worst season in nearly half a century, many were perplexed, to say the least. Sure, he brought immediate name recognition and boundless energy, but the former Michigan and NFL quarterback also had limited coaching experience: Two seasons as the Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach and three seasons at the University of San Diego, a Championship Subdivision, non-scholarship program. As he concluded his first spring camp, the reviews from his players were overwhelmingly positive, although after two years of drill sergeant-like practices with Walt Harris, that much was probably to be expected.

The question was, could Harbaugh restore the pride in the program once run by the likes of Bill Walsh, Denny Green, Tyrone Willingham and Jack Elway? Well, a season later, we have our answer, and it's an emphatic yes.

What Harbaugh and his coaching staff accomplished last season is nothing short of remarkable. In fact, while Dennis Erickson was more than deserving as Pac-10 Coach of the Year, an argument could've easily been made for Harbaugh, as he somehow guided the Cardinal to conference victories over California, Arizona and gulp, USC. And while that defeat of the Trojans was as shocking as any upset in conference history -- if not college football history -- perhaps the greatest indicator of the turnaround came three weeks before against San Jose State.